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Nirmal Khatri appointed UP Congress chief


Lucknow/New Delhi : Congress MP Nirmal Khatri has been appointed Uttar Pradesh Congress president, replacing Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who had put in her papers after the party put up a poor show in the March state assembly polls.

Khatri, who represents Faizabad in parliament, was appointed to the post Monday night, party leaders said.

“Congress president Sonia Gandhi has appointed Nirmal Khatri, MP as president of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee with immediate effect,” a party statement said Tuesday.

Khatri, 61, belongs to the traditional Vaish business community and is considered uncontroversial. He is known to be close to both the Congress chief and her son, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

His stint with the Congress began as a Youth Congress worker in the 1970s. He was Youth Congress president in 1982, secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) between 2004 and 2010 and also minister of state in the state twice in the 1980s. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1984 after former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

A special invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Khatri was also member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up to examine matters related to the allocation and princing of telecom licenses and spectrum.

The Congress leadership had hinted at a revamp of the state unit after the poll debacle in March. In June, Pradeep Mathur was made new Congress Legislature Party (CLP) chief in place of old loyalist Pramod Tiwari.

The Congress has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh since 1989 after the Mandal and the Ram Mandir movements saw it lose its hold on one of the party’s long standing bastions.